It's our fourth edition of Gothamist's travel content, Gothamist Getaways. A few times a year, we'll have a week of posts featuring looks at travel, food, products and tips—near and far—for making your trips more enjoyable. So sit back, dream of your next journey and let us know if you have any hints for us—email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now that temperatures have dropped and the city's outdoor rollerskating venues have closed for the season, head indoors to one of these classic rinks. If you're looking for an authentic old school skating experience complete with a disco ball and rental skates that were possibly worn in the 1980s, you must plan a visit to one of these timeless treasures.
If you want to visit a roller rink in NYC that does rock a disco ball, but isn’t an authentic old school rink (it opened in 2007), head to Roller Jam on Staten Island. It’s accessible by public transportation and the rink is open every Saturday night for adults from 9pm-2am.
Hot Skates is less than a forty-minute car ride from the city. For those who don’t have access to a car, you can hop on the LIRR to either Lynbrook or Rockville Center and grab a cab to Hot Skates. This Long Island roller rink is a time machine. I used to come here as a child and it looks the same as it did in the 1980s, which adds to the appeal.
For a total 80’s experience, order a slushie at the snack bar, then skate off the sugar high on the maple wood rink while the disco ball sparkles overhead. When you're ready to take a break, play some of the classic arcade games located near the snack bar. You can only rent four-wheel skates here, but inline skaters are welcome to bring their own rollerblades. On Thursdays, Hot Skates has adult night from 9pm-2am with DJ Big Bob.
Located down the street from FDR's home, Hyde Park Roller Magic represents another era in American history. The classic rink is a must-visit if you are spending the weekend in Rhinebeck or neighboring towns. In the summer, you can also enjoy a flick at the Hyde Park Drive-In just a minute's drive from the rink.
Roller Magic (Facebook)
For a completely retro experience, have a post-skate meal down the road at kitschy 50’s style Everyready Diner. Hyde Park Roller Magic offers both inline and regular skate rentals.
Originally built in the 1950’s, this Connecticut roller rink is just minutes from Mystic. It’s also right off exit 85 on I-95 north, making it an ideal rest stop, if you find yourself in holiday traffic making your way north for a break. The rink has a live DJ and offers both rollerblade and roller skate rentals.
CHERRY HILL SKATING & FUN CENTER
This retro rink outside of Philly has been around for over thirty years. It has all the necessities for a perfect day at the rink, including an arcade and snack bar. If you want to rock in the New Year on skates, head to Cherry Hill Skating & Fun Center for a New Years Eve Celebration (it’s only fifteen bucks and includes party favors!). The regular adults-only skate session is on the first Friday of the month at 10pm-12:30am.
For a good spot in Jersey, check out South Amboy Roller Magic, part of a chain of rinks with four locations including Jackson, NJ, Waterbury, CT and Depew, NY. The South Amboy rink plays host to a particularly quirky adult skating session—head along on Monday and Wednesday mornings to hit the rink to some organ music.
If you grew up going to a United Skates of America, the chain still exists, and they have an outpost on the south shore of Long Island. They also have locations in Newark and Camden, New Jersey.
Alison Lowenstein, Gothamist Getaways editor, is the author of NYC guidebooks, and travel articles for National Geographic Traveler, Newsday, NY Daily News, etc. When she isn’t planning trips, she enjoys jogging around the streets of NYC. Despite her athletic pursuits, her favorite food is the donut. You can find her on Twitter at @cityweekendsnyc